This was our first time sailing on Oceania. We were concerned about going on this cruise given the Nautica is badly in need of renovations. And these renovations are not to occur until June of this year, when the ship is scheduled to go into dry dock for a couple of weeks. However, considering the 30-day itinerary from Dubai to Cape Town, including the various stops in Oman, India, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion Island and several ports in South Africa, an itinerary that we really liked, we decided to overlook the ship’s tired physical condition.
A second factor that swayed our decision was Oceania’s ‘reported’ longstanding reputation for serving some of the finest food of any of the cruise companies. Weighing these factors, we decided to proceed with booking this cruise.
Our sailing experience on the Nautica clearly DID NOT measure up to Oceania’s longstanding high quality culinary reputation, nor our overall high expectations for this specific cruise. The cruise frankly was a sad disappointment for us.
Here are some of our specific disappointments from our 30-day experience on board the Nautica.
My partner ordered a baked potato one evening for dinner and asked for sour cream to accompany it. The waiter brought a small serving urn with the sour cream. My partner put a lot of this sour cream on his potato. When he tried it, it did not taste right. I tried a small amount – it was NOT sour cream, rather milk and yogurt, and did not taste right.
That evening my partner had significant diarrhea symptoms. We reported this to the Food and Beverage Director the following day. All she said was that she checked the original container and it said sour cream, but that the ingredients were a mix of milk and yogurt – and it was NOT sour cream. We told her that the sour cream that was served was not chilled / not at the correct temperature. My partner suffered with this diarrhea from this sour cream for four days when we finally went to see the on-board doctor. He was given medication – an antibiotic.
Our issue with Nautica regarding this issue is three-fold:
#1. Low(er) Quality Foods Are Now Served On Oceania. The sour cream served was not sour cream. It was a ‘faux’ sour cream - a mix of milk and yogurt, and not a high-quality sour cream. The Food and Beverage Director confirmed this fact.
And another example of a lower quality product served was the horseradish to accompany grilled steaks. What was served as ‘horseradish had no taste, it was brown-colored mess – not ‘steakhouse quality’ white ground horseradish. This horseradish also was also reported to the Food and Beverage Director who simply reported back to us that this product is specified and sourced from Oceania’s Miami Headquarters office. It you go on Oceania, DO NOT ask for their horseradish – if you do, you will be disappointed!
Other passengers we met on board the Nautica also expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the quality of the food that was served. Apparently, several passengers with a history of sailing with Oceania several times, also noticed a distinct difference in the food quality. Some speculated that this change maybe a result of the sale of Oceania to Norwegian Cruise Lines.
#2. Food Safety - Temperature Control. My career has been in the food service business. Over the entire 30-day cruise, I NEVER saw anyone in any of the dining venues (dining rooms, buffet restaurant, nor at any of the other food servings) ever check temperatures. No one had a thermometer that was visible anywhere to even check temperatures.
And in the Terrace Café, the buffet restaurant, they displayed foods that from a food safety perspective NEED to be held on ice, and not at room temperature. I even saw that they displayed ‘tartar sauce’ to accompany their fish and chips in a copper pot which was located under the heat lamps and right on the heated counter next to the heated pan holding the fish. I touched the side of this copper pot and it was HOT. I mentioned this tartar sauce holding issue to the Food and Beverage Director; however, no action was ever taken to hold the tartar sauce on ice at subsequent buffet servings of their fish and chips.
Given our dining experience, be prepared to get food poisoning on the Nautica, and potentially on other Oceania cruises, as a result of their obvious lack of proper food safety protocols and procedures.
#3. Oceania Would Not Refund Our Excursion Costs For Cancelled Excursions As A Result Of The Diarrhea That Nautica Caused.
We were unable to go on several of the excursions that we had booked as a result of my partner’s diarrhea. We asked the on-board doctor if he could coordinate a refund of these specific excursions when we met with him to diagnose and treat the diarrhea. He was not able to get us any refunds from the Destinations Services Department for these specific excursions that we could not go on for reported health reasons. They did not and will not refund these excursions. We ask why not???
We found this Oceania policy to be inexcusable. To us it shows a ‘greed policy’ vs. a hospitality culture focused on ALL passengers’ well-being, personal safety and good health.
The second night of our 30-day cruise, in the middle of the night, the temperature of the cabin got very hot. And we noticed on the floor and on our ‘white’ bed duvet cover directly below one of the ceiling vents, that there were small chunks of oily dust balls that left stains (black oil stains) on the carpet and on the rug. We reported the oily dust balls to our Butler and our Housekeeper – they had the rug cleaned, and each time dust balls fell, the next day they cleaned the area.
We also reported the hot temperature issues and the falling oily dust balls to the Assistant Cruise Director and the General Manager.
The cabin’s hot temperature issues in the middle of the night plagued us all through our entire 30-day cruise. We reported the issue to the Assistant Cruise Director and the General Manager six times. The engineers came to our cabin each time and on the third time we complained about the hot nighttime temperature of the cabin. During this in-cabin meeting, the Chief Engineer said that he can merely change the temperature of our cabin, that the in-room thermostat DID NOT control the cabin temperature, he did. And he further reported to us that the temperature of the cabins on the ship are in vertical zones, again that he and his engineering department controls centrally.
After engineering turned the temperature down (to 20 degrees C at night), we thought the issue had been solved. Then about a week later, again the temperature at night climbed, and the cabin was uncomfortably hot. The next morning, we met with the Assistant Cruise Director, the General Manager and the Chief Engineer, AGAIN. The Chief Engineer admitted that his Assistant Engineer had changed the zone temperature (he increased the temperature) the prior evening. However, he promised us that he would personally control the nighttime temperature for the zone that our cabin was in for the remainder of the cruise.
Overall, we had to complain six times about the cabin temperature. This should not be! One or two or three reported issues with the temperature should be enough to get the temperature under control.
And…the black balls of oil-soaked dust continued to drop from the ceiling ventilation vent until the day we departed the cruise.
This is another example of the disappointing experience we had on Oceania.
Here is one example of this situation. This was most surprising to us. One of the employees who served us for a couple of weeks, came up to us three days before our 30-day cruise ended. This person asked us how we were enjoying our cruise. We said – ‘not so much’ – we were disappointed in the food quality, and there were other issues that we have had on board. And this person then said…’well…me neither, I also am not happy, plus there are other employees on board, who are also disappointed in working for Oceania’. One of the disappointments this person told us is that Oceania provided NO training what-so-ever for how this person (and others) were to do their jobs. There also was another employee, an Italian who worked as a waiter. He was from Roma, Italy. He always looked so sad every time we saw him. And then about two weeks before the cruise ended, we did not see him on board again. He obviously quit his job and left the ship.
As a result of this 30-day experience on Oceania’s Nautica, we will not book another Oceania cruise.
Our advice – BUYER BEWARE! Oceania today is NOT what it had been according to former reviews of a reported high-quality cruise experience, and especially when it comes to their culinary reputation. From our experience, there simply are many other highly rated, consistent quality and much better cruise alternatives to Oceania. We recommend booking anything other than Oceania!
Please see review posted above.